The communicativeness of discourse markers in the English speech of Chinese ESL learners

Wai Ling Cecilia CHU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


When discourse markers are used in face-to-face communication, to what extent will second language learners follow the prescribed rules of usage of these markers as are described in some textbooks grammars? If there is any deviation from the convention, are these performance mistakes a reflection of the ignorance of the competence knowledge, or are they some impromptu means of self-expression in the occasions? This study of the discourse markers in the argument discourse of Chinese learners of English, attempted to answer questions such as these. A speech corpus was collected from the classroom discussion groups of a language skills programme in three consecutive years. The speech performance of the groups was tape-recorded and transcribed. Particular discourse markers were selected for a discourse analysis with reference to their functions in the context. This paper, explores the characteristics of the user’s language and refers to some samples of non-native speakers’ use of discourse markers. The study found that ESL learners’ use of discourse markers served as a response to the contextual need. This reflects the nature of creativity and ‘metamorphosis’ of the development grammar of interlanguage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


discourse analysis
group discussion


Chu, W. L. (1998, December). The communicativeness of discourse markers in the English speech of Chinese ESL learners. Paper presented at the International Language in Education Conference 1998: The Curriculum: Issues in Teaching and Learning, Evaluation and Assessment, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.